Monday, April 18, 2011

Gimme A Break

It's good to have a break. Things have been pretty tense around the old schoolhouse lately. You might recall a few weeks back when over six hundred layoff notices went out in the mail to teachers in my district. If you don't, then you probably didn't get one of those nice, pink, registered affirmations of the crisis in education. The pink tide stretched all the way up to the five year mark. Hundreds of experienced, "fully qualified," tenured teachers made that list. I was fortunate enough to be spared, even if it was merely because I had the whim to join the ranks of professional educators more than five years ago. Since two-thirds of our staff fell under that line, however, there have been a lot of hard feelings in the staff room. That's not to say that anybody just stopped doing their job. On the contrary: We have all banded together as we lurch toward the statewide testing deadline in the first two weeks of May. At one time, it was accepted that the final notice of being laid off would have come just after that window closed. "Thanks for cranking out another crop of bubbled-in approximations of your students' abilities. Now don't come back." Only now the worm has turned. Suddenly, as if by magic, virtually all of those pink slips have been rescinded. That's fancy education-speak to say that our teachers get to keep their jobs. Apparently there was this big chunk of money that no one knew about, or was willing to talk about, suddenly became available and now everyone can go ahead and just relax, knowing that they can come back to the job they worked so hard at all year long. Or not. It is certain that a good number of that six hundred felt the tree shaking and went elsewhere to look for a place where their talents would be needed. More than a hundred took the early retirement bait, and those who had only probationary contracts won't be coming back. Now the district is working on saving music teachers, as if that announcement would stir us all to cheer. They should be doing that. As well as counsellors, principals, assistant principals, adult education teachers, and on and on. The shocking part of this whole experience was the lack of apparent action from either the district or the teacher's union to work at saving the jobs of those on the bubble. When it turned out that the bubble was much smaller than anyone outwardly appreciated, the reaction was supposed to be gratitude for saving jobs that never needed to be threatened in the first place. That's either really poor fiscal management, or it's evil manipulation of people's lives. Whatever the case, it will be nice to have a week off. I expect I'll still have a job when it's over.

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